FORTROSE -- Mint Findlayson, 33, of Wester Links, maintains that despite living less than 100 yards from the beach, he doesn't know what all the fuss is about noisy seagulls.
"I can't hear them for all the moaning about them, honestly," said the father of three. "And if I could, it would be music to my ears."
When asked to elaborate, Mr Finlayson cited several recent encounters he's had with citizens gathered in groups on the Fortrose High Street having excited conversations about gull noise. "The way these people go at it sometimes, I'm tempted to throw a handful of breadcrumbs at them and watch what happens."
Fortrose has a significant community of herring gulls which gravitates toward the quaint village centre and its "plug and play" suburban housing estates to roost in the late spring. Unlike their rustic tree-dwelling neighbours of colour, crows and rooks, the gulls prefer the stately environs provided by the gutters and chimney stacks of Fortrose. The gulls are protected by law, which is a source of irritation for some.
"This isn't the Fortrose I grew up in," says Eilidh Alba, 23, a founding member of Fortrose League of Young Enraged Mods Opposed to Feathered Freeloaders (FLYEMOFF) and admitted connoisseur of face piercings, a passion she hopes to grow into an online blog some day. "When I was growing up, there was maybe the odd gull here and there, but now you can't go oot the hoose without having to walk through crowds of them and their fool jibber jabber. Me maw is scairt to daith to walk to the Co-Op cos she thinks she'll catch the bird flu from them mingers."
But not everyone in town shares her views. Barbara Brown, 49, managing director of Guaranteed Unlimited Legal Liberty (GULL), fights for avian rights when not trolling social media groups for novel twists on plant-based macaroni and cheese. "These animals have as much right as the people of Fortrose to make a racket in the wee hours, intimidate innocent pedestrians and 'do their business' wherever they please. Anyone who doesn't like it can feel free to move north to somewhere they can be around humans without having to worry about when the next seagull family is going to move in."
Others are still undecided on the gull issue. "In an anthropological sense," says Iaian Malarkee, 87, of Feddon Hill, "gull culture well pre-dates that of human settlement in Fortrose. The question is, who is the invader and who is being invaded?" he asked, whilst meticulously logging the number of rooftop gull nests within range of his vintage Argos binoculars, recently acquired through Black Isle Buy and Swap.
As for Mint Findlayson and his flat-roofed bungalow -- sometimes referred to as Port Marion for Seagulls -- there is a practical side to the issue: "the whole thing is being taken out of context. We won't know how valuable these gulls are to our standard of living in Fortrose until we chase them all away. I'll tell you one thing, though -- when we do, you won't see me picking up chips after the school kids every day."
This article contains additional reporting by Jess Anderson